The past few weeks have been very anxious for so many people in northern Ontario who have had to deal with huge forest fires. These fires are no surprise to Native Elders. Many Elders I speak to have been warning of the climate changing for a few years now. They worry that the weather will become very hot and the forest dry.

Big companies involved mainly in energy, have a lot of influence over governments to try to convince us that we should not be listening to the world’s most prominent scientists regarding global warming and our runaway pollution of the air, land and water. However, people are not as stupid as these manipulators think. We can all see evidence of climate change in the weather patterns all over the world and in particular in our own backyard in northern Ontario. The Elders I talk to tell me that there are great changes that have to do with shorter and warmer winters, hotter and longer summers and they point out that this affects the land and the animals and birds that live on Mother Earth.

Few people I talk to can remember a spring fire season as bad as this one. There was less snow in the forest this winter and the cold season was shorter. This combined with a hot sunny spring produced a very dry forest that ended up resulting in the huge fires experienced near Timmins and Kirkland Lake.

Our governments are failing us when it comes to dealing with global warming. Instead of doing their very best at combating pollution and really working at green alternatives for energy they are doing their best with the encouragement of the energy sector to discredit world-renown scientists who are trying to warn us about the seriousness of global warming.

To make matters worse governments are cutting back on research and analysis that has to do with scientific study of the environment. It should be obvious to us that they are trying to dry up funding that assists scientists in monitoring the affects of global warming on our land, air and water. The problem is that we have put the foxes in charge of the hen house and they are intent on having their way. We should be more aware and consequently upset at the many ways that government and industry have been and are currently working hard to make us believe that there is no such thing as global warming and that our polluting industries have little to do with climate change.

My people the Cree of James Bay have lived on the land since the dawn of time and I trust the voice of the Elders when they tell me that their world is changing alarmingly fast and that the weather patterns are causing great change that is most evident in the affects on the wildlife. It is an ancient cultural belief of my people that if you do not respect Mother Earth bad things will happen. I think that since the beginning of the industrial revolution we have been disrespecting Mother Earth and spewing millions of tons of pollution into the air and water.

It seemed that at one point we all were interested in the environment and conservation but that concern has been beaten back and discourage by millions of dollars spent by big business to lobby governments and discredit good science. When it comes to thinking for ourselves on this issue we should be ready to return to a time when we put our trust in environmentalists, conservationists, prominent scientists and those who care for the land.

We must give our environmentalists and conservationists and scientists the respect they deserve for working under great oppression and pressure while trying help us come up with ways to deal with global warming. We must change our way of thinking and realize that if we don’t, then our future generations will have to live with the impact of global warming.

The Elders are worried about what will happen if we don’t and it isn’t pretty. More and larger forest fires are just one of the symptoms.